Thursday, May 31, 2018

Pittsburgh Polymer Clay Guild Workshop...

Me (in the apron) with some of the PPCG at the Swissvale Fire Department.
A day after I got back from San Francisco, I headed over to the Pittsburgh Polymer Clay Guild to teach a two-day workshop on working with resin and mold-making.  As I've taken a step back from the front of house operations at the shop, so too have I stepped back from teaching.  It seems like for awhile, I was on a roll teaching, doing presentations for arts groups and demoing for TV.  I know that it pales in comparison to some of my teacher friends who teach on a daily basis or teach workshops for the majority of their income.  Still... for awhile, it felt like I was all too regularly in this position, putting myself in front of people and facilitating learning opportunities.  This isn't something that comes naturally for me.  I am most comfortable in the sanctuary of my studio, keeping my own company, and playing mad scientist with my art supplies.  But as much as it's outside of my comfort zone, it has been very rewarding and I often look back with fondness to my teaching experiences.  I am very thankful and appreciative that the Pittsburgh Polymer Clay Guild asked me back to expand upon a demo that I did last year.  It's a big honor considering the incredibly lineup of their past instructors!

Left: Mushroom tile in progress by the very talented, Les Polinko.  Middle: My traveling feast of ideas and art supplies.  Right: Me showing how to make mold walls out of inexpensive materials... aka a toilet paper roll!  All of these photos are courtesy of Les Polinko!  
I always feel like I'm moving in when I teach, especially for these more in-depth workshops!  I always come loaded down with bags and bags of art supplies and examples of my own work.  I think I filled up four tables of different materials and examples and projects in various stages of completion!  It's like I've transported a little chunk of my studio with me.

Top left: Texture tiles created by the fabulous Laura Tabakman. Bottom left: Les Polinko's mushroom tile in progress with polymer clay gnome.  Bottom center: Lovely fish pond scene made by Rebecca Watkins.  Right:  Les Polinko's baby mandrake about to get molded! 
We had a fantastic group of talented students!  Several of the participants of the workshop are accomplished professional artists.  It's always a curious situation when teaching colleagues and others who are experts in their own right.  I shy away from project oriented workshops, because to me, what's more valuable are the techniques and guidance.  I want to help people best achieve what they want to do and help guide them to where they want to go.  I know that it can be frustrating for some with this loosey-goosey style of teaching; I know some folks prefer more structure and are more results based.  I do hope that everyone had a good time though and that even if they were pushed outside of their comfort zones and subjected to my own particular brand of teaching and humor, that they found it a valuable and empowering experience.  Everyone seemed to have a positive class and that there was lots of learning and growing.  I could see the gears turning in the heads of several of the attendees, adapting their own practices to incorporate these materials and ways of working... and I think that's a very good thing indeed.  I can't wait to see what they create!

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